Contact: Ben Kolada
In another sign of growing interest in the digital media sector, and in Internet companies in particular, Getty Images has announced that its management and The Carlyle Group are acquiring the company from Hellman & Friedman for $3.3bn. The consortium is paying nearly 40% more for the company than H&F did just four years ago when it took Getty private in a $2.4bn deal. The deal is the largest Internet content and commerce acquisition since Silver Lake Partners and Warburg Pincus announced in May 2010 that they were taking Interactive Data Corp private for $3.4bn.
With the exception of a dip in 2003, M&A volume in the broad Internet content and commerce category has risen every year since we began tracking tech acquisitions in 2002. Unlike the greater tech sector, Internet deal volume was even resilient during the recent recession. According to The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase, while overall yearly tech M&A volume dropped 25% from its high of 4,032 transactions announced in 2006 to 3,020 in 2008, Internet M&A volume rose 10.5% over the same period.
Both older Internet properties and hot upstarts are attracting interest. The advent of social media has enabled today’s Internet startups to rapidly market their products to millions of consumers through powerful word of mouth marketing. Meanwhile, older Internet vendors that survived the tech industry’s nuclear winter a decade ago have now matured, and many are seeking liquidity.
Also driving M&A activity is the rise of serial Internet acquirers such as Google, which has picked up 31 Internet firms. And we’re seeing a resurgence of Internet consolidation shops, such as Rebellion Media and MITRE.
Internet content and commerce annual deal volume
Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase
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